Skip to main content

Full text of "[untitled] The American Historical Review, (1899-12-01), pages 374-376"

See other formats


STOP 



Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 
purposes. 

Read more about Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate-jstor/individuals/early- 
journal-content . 



JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 
contact support@jstor.org. 



374 Reviews of Books 

1864. After putting himself on record as strongly desiring to get rid of 
Butler and put Smith in his place, Grant suddenly suspended the order, 
already issued, depriving Butler of command, and at the same time re- 
moved Smith. Mr. Rhodes conjectures that it was all due to "some 
hold ' ' which Butler had secured on Grant, which was employed in so 
unscrupulous a manner as to overawe the latter. 

" Perhaps he joined together, in a Mephistophelian manner, the 
failure of the campaign, the popular horror at the waste of blood, seem- 
ingly to no purpose, and the general's relapse from his rule of total 
abstinence ; perhaps he told Grant that as a Confederate corps under 
Early was now threatening Washington, to the exasperation of the people 
of the North, the commander of the Union armies needed a friend who 
had a powerful control of public sentiment, and that he was not so secure 
of his position that he could afford to refuse the proffered aid of Butler, 
which was his for an equivalent " (pp. 495-496). 

The interest of this explanation is enhanced by the fact that it might 
suggest a clue to the unravelling of another mystery later in Grant's 
career. In connection with the effort of President Johnson to get rid 
of Secretary Stanton, just before the impeachment, General Grant took 
a step which thwarted the President's plan. Grant's action was at once 
declared by Johnson to involve a flat violation of a pledge deliberately 
given by the general. That such a pledge had been given was asserted 
in the most explicit terms by five members of the cabinet — men whose 
word was worthy of absolute confidence. But Grant, on the other 
hand, met the accusation of bad faith with a simple and unqualified de- 
nial that he had ever made the promise in question. The issue of 
veracity stands complete, and to this day undetermined, with odds of six 
to one against Grant. At the time of this remarkable controversy 
Butler was the leader in fact of the Republicans in Congress, soon to be- 
come, at the death of Thaddeus Stevens, the leader in name as well. 
Among the adversaries of President Johnson he was easily the fiercest. 
In the party at large he was naturally very influential. The availability 
of Grant as a candidate for the presidency in 1868 was under active dis- 
cussion. Can it be that Butler played Mephistopheles again, and as in 
1864 moulded the will of his victim, though now rather through the 
promise of a splendid gain than through the threat of a frightful loss ? 
It is to be hoped that when Mr. Rhodes reaches the proper point in his 
narrative he will throw all possible light on this strange incident. 

Wm. A. Dunning. 

The Civil War on the Border. A Narrative of Military Operations 
in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory, during 
the years 1863-65, based upon Official Reports and Observations 
of the Author. By Wiley Britton, late of the War Depart- 
ment. Vol. II. (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1899. 
Pp. xxiii, 546). 

Among the Missourians who enlisted in Kansas regiments during the 



Britton : The Civil War on the Border 375 

Rebellion, and the number of them was considerable, we find the author 
of The Civil War on the Border. He joined the Sixth Cavalry, and the 
"Observations" upon which the history is partly based were made during 
the author's service in this regiment, which lasted from 1861 to 1865. 
At an early date he began a chronicle of the important events that came 
under his notice. In 1882 a portion of this diary, the rest of it having 
been destroyed by some unlucky accident, was printed with the title, 
Memoirs of the Rebellion on the Border, 1863. Subsequently the author 
had occasion to travel extensively in the region which he calls the Border 
and he embraced the opportunity to gather from survivors of the Rebellion 
whatever information they could give in regard to it. 

Mr. Britton devotes himself mainly to military operations in the 
field. One would scarcely know from reading his book that the bitter- 
est feuds were raging meanwhile among the Unionists. In Missouri the 
"Claybank" faction fought the "Charcoal" faction, and in Kansas 
Senator Lane gave Governor Robinson and his successor no end of trouble. 
General Schofield makes it clear in his Forty-Six Years in the Army that 
he had quite as much to fear, while he was in command of the Depart- 
ment of Missouri, from certain professed Unionists as from the avowed 
Secessionists. 

Nothing decisive happened upon the Border during the war. Rela- 
tively the military operations there were of a secondary character. Of 
those which fall within the period covered by Mr. Britton' s second vol- 
ume, the most important were Shelby's foray, the Price raid, the Red 
River campaign and the Camden expedition which terminated in the 
disastrous battle of Poison Springs, where " the First Nigger bucked to 
the Twenty-Ninth Texas ' ' — and bucked with very unsatisfactory re- 
sults. 

Undoubtedly the distinctive features of the struggle on the Border 
were furnished by the guerillas and bandits. Nowhere else in the coun- 
try did the peculiar style of warfare which they followed have any such 
vogue as in the western counties of Missouri, and Mr. Britton naturally 
devotes considerable space to them. 

The guerrillas commonly had a loose organization, were often com- 
manded by an officer with a Confederate commission, and operated in 
bands ranging in number from one to three hundred men. They moved 
rapidly from point to point, attacked escorts and trains, made an occa- 
sional dash into Kansas, and kept the country in a state of constant 
turmoil and alarm. In 1863, under the lead of the notorious Quantrill 
they destroyed Lawrence, Kansas — an event which Mr. Britton discusses 
at length and which may be considered the high-water mark of border 
savagery during the Civil War. 

If the guerillas were bad enough, the bandits surpassed them in genius 
for evil. Among the latter there seem to have been a good many orig- 
inal desperadoes. At all events the inhumanity of their style of warfare 
can hardly be exaggerated. With little or no organization, and commonly 
operating in small squads, they fired from ambush upon Union scouts aod 
vol. v. — 25 



376 Reviews of Books 

couriers as well as upon private citizens whose politics they did not ap- 
prove. They supplemented robberies and spoliations with abductions, 
tortures and murders. These outlaws, who set at naught all the ordinary 
laws of warfare, were hunted down like wild beasts, and, if caught, dis- 
patched without mercy. It is said that the prowess and heroism ex- 
hibited in penetrating into their hiding-places in Western Missouri 
rivalled the adventures of Diomede and Ulysses, " in entering the Tro- 
jan camp by night and slaughtering Rhesus and his companions. ' ' Yet 
our author is not insensible to the presence of pathetic elements in this 
pitiless business. Stumbling upon the dead body of a bandit near camp 
one day he pauses in his Memoirs to moralize on the gruesome incident. 
" I have no inclination to make a funeral oration over him, yet I will 
venture to remark that there is a sad thought connected with his lonely 
and obscure grave, for he has fallen in a cause that can never receive the 
sympathy of men fighting for justice and equal rights. ' ' 

Mr. Britton has written a relatively dispassionate and judicial book. 
This is all the more surprising when we remember that he was an avowed 
abolitionist, a Kansas cavalryman, and that his parents, who remained in 
Missouri, suffered heavily at the hands of the Confederates. " I hope 
that I have not given in a single case," he says in his Memoirs, "an ex- 
travagant and sentimental account. ... I am perfectly aware that a 
work filled with highly-colored statements is more greedily read . . . 
than one containing plain solid facts ; yet I do not regret the course I 
have followed." While Mr. Britton may not have any signal felicities 
of style ; while he may sometimes fail in matters of perspective and in 
the estimate of relative historical values, yet three cardinal excellences 
appear everywhere in his narrative — clearness, directness and sincerity. 

Leverett W. Spring. 

The Santiago Campaign, 1898. By Major-General Joseph Wheeler, 
Commmanding Fourth Corps, U. S. A., late Commander of 
Cavalry Division in Santiago Campaign. (Philadelphia: Drexel 
Biddle. 1899. Pp. xvii, 369.) 

The War with Spain. By Henry Cabot Lodge. (New York : 
Harper and Brothers. 1899. Pp. 276.) 

Reminiscences of the Santiago Campaign. By John Bigelow, Jr., 
Captain 10th U. S. Cavalry. (New York : Harper and Broth- 
ers. 1899. Pp. vii, 188.) 

The Rough Riders. By Theodore Roosevelt, Colonel of the 
First U. S. Volunteer Cavalry. (New York : Charles Scrib- 
ner's Sons. 1899. Pp. xi, 298.) 

A genial figure on the American stage is Major-General Joseph 
Wheeler. Ever youthful, ever vigorous, his simple manliness stands 
forth from these pages as it did from his activity at Santiago. After 
graduating at West Point in 1859 and serving two years, he joined the